Definition of gulf in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡʌlf/


1A deep inlet of the sea almost surrounded by land, with a narrow mouth.
Example sentences
  • The land companies began to dredge canals through the marshlands, opening easy access from the settled towns on land to the gulf.
  • Dangerous Reef, located at the mouth of the gulf, is home to the great white shark.
  • The day before, I'd taken a tour boat for a ten-hour wildlife cruise into the gulf and fjords west of town.
inlet, creek, bight, fjord, estuary, sound, arm of the sea;
bay, cove;
Scottish  firth, frith;
in Orkney & Shetland voe
technical ria
rare fleet, armlet
1.1 (the Gulf) informal name for Persian Gulf.
2A deep ravine, chasm, or abyss.
Example sentences
  • The canyons - or gulfs, as the local people call them - are each about five miles long and 800 feet deep and are rimmed almost continuously by sheer sandstone cliffs.
  • It wasn't so much a gulf in class, more like a Grand Canyon-style chasm.
opening, gap, fissure, cleft, split, rift, crevasse, hole, pit, cavity, chasm, abyss, void;
ravine, gorge, canyon, gully
3A large difference or division between two people or groups, or between viewpoints, concepts, or situations: the widening gulf between the rich and the poor
More example sentences
  • Just pointing out that there's a wide gulf of difference between the scientific theory of evolution and the way evolutionary dogma gets perceived by the masses.
  • The activities of these aggressive and communal forces further widen the gulf between different communities.
  • The two sides remain sharply polarised, and periodic attempts to bridge the wide gulf between them have fizzled out.
divergence, contrast, polarity, divide, division, separation, difference, wide area of difference;
schism, breach, rift, split, severance, rupture, divorce;
chasm, abyss, gap
rare scission


Late Middle English: from Old French golfe, from Italian golfo, based on Greek kolpos 'bosom, gulf'.

  • The Greek word kolpos had a number of meanings relating to a curved shape, including ‘bosom’, ‘the trough between waves’, ‘the fold of a piece of clothing’, and ‘gulf or bay’. This is where our word gulf came from, via Italian and Old French. We can talk about a gulf between two groups, meaning a great division or difference between them. This was probably influenced by a passage in the Gospel of Luke: ‘Between you and us there is a great gulf set’.

Words that rhyme with gulf


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: gulf

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